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A Trip That Made A Difference

Posted by on October 13, 2013

I recently visited the good folks at Watermark Coffee.   They are located in City West, south of Dublin.  Watermark is run by David & Margueritte Lawlor and they are the Gaggia coffee machine dealer for Ireland.  They have a beautiful showroom with all kinds of Gaggia machines—which are works of art in themselves—on display.

If you are interested you can purchase or rent machines from Watermark for your coffee shop, workplace canteen, restaurant, hotel, even your home.

So being coffee roasters first and coffee makers second it was great to see a master at work.  David really opened my eyes to how much difference a good coffee machine and an expert barista can make to the cup of coffee you’re drinking.

I knew this on some level but since I’ve never spent a lot of time barista-ing myself and making espressos, cappuccinos, lattes, etc. (but I have spent a lot of time drinking them).  The trip brought me a whole new appreciation for what David was doing.

He opened up a bag of our Bantam’s Brew (the iconic Mocha-Java blend) whole bean coffee and poured it into his grinder and then went to work.  He was using a big, professional coffee machine that had the ability to change the temperature of the water that was being pushed through the coffee grounds.

So he took a dose of finely ground Bantam’s Brew, about 16g, tamped it down and locked it onto the espresso machine.  He dialled the temp in to 93C and produced a very nice cup of espresso.  Light acidity, layered with flavour and all in all a very agreeable cup of coffee.  I was impressed.

But David didn’t stop there.  He wanted to see just how much flavour he could get out of the coffee.  So he tried it at 91C and then 87C, jiggering with the grind size and dose size as he went along.  After four different renderings of espresso I thought he was done (and I knew I wouldn’t have any trouble staying awake on the long drive home) but no, he wasn’t.

As an aside here I think the word passion is one of the most overused words in the coffee business, and for that matter, most businesses.  If you talk to people in the coffee industry you’ll find that everyone is passionate about coffee.  But that simply isn’t so.  Collins Dictionary defines passion as: a strong affection or enthusiasm for an object or concept.  And ardent love or affection.  If you look up ardent you find that it means intensely enthusiastic.  Which made me think of zealous.  Zealous is defined as filled with or inspired by intense enthusiasm and then it gives the synonyms fervent which means intensely passionate.

You know, I know people who don’t feel that strongly about their spouse, or kids, or their faithful dog who dragged them down the mountain and saved their life.  But in David’s case I could see I had found a person who was truly passionate, fervent, zealous, ardent, and intensely enthusiastic about coffee.

So back to the good stuff . . .

David, still on the quest for the best that Bantam’s Brew could be, brewed it at 89C and made the grind a bit finer.  WOW!  Talk about good!  The best cup of coffee I’ve had since I moved to Ireland!  And it was made with coffee The Lovely & Talented Roast Mistress had exercised her passion on only five days previously.

What’s the point of all this?  Well I just had to tell you how wowed I was by the espresso shots that David ‘pulled’ for us, and how impressed I was with his barista talents, and how fantastic I found out our coffee really was!  (I knew it was great stuff but he took it to a whole new level.)  Also I wanted to demonstrate to you how one coffee can taste so many different ways when in the hands of a master craftsman.

So if you want to develop your passion for coffee start experimenting with your equipment at home and then when you’re ready, take the plunge, get some really good machinery and dive into the 360° experience.  Who knows where it might take you.  It took David from his old gig seven years ago in the waste disposal industry to a job he can’t wait to get to every day.  Not unlike The Lovely & Talented Roast Mistress and myself finally deciding to quit talking about becoming coffee and start doing it.  Start small – we started roasting on our stove top, and I’m sure David probably started with one entry level espresso machine.  Just start though, I guess that is really the bottom line.  Who knows where starting might lead you – whether coffee or something else you’re really into.

I think you’ll be glad you did!

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